The Best Places to Visit in Finland

Home » Scandinavia » The Best Places to Visit in Finland

Why is Finland consistently ranked as the world's happiest country? Plan a trip to the Nordic nation and discover firsthand what makes Finns so content with their lives.

Finland's exceptional quality of life stems from a unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and innovative design.

Finland's capital city Helsinki in the winter.
Finland's capital city Helsinki in the winter.

From the vibrant streets of Helsinki, renowned for its cutting-edge design and architecture, to the untouched wilderness of the Arctic Circle, Finland offers a multitude of experiences.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the contemporary charm of urban centres, stay in glass igloos under star-studded skies waiting for the northern lights, or wander through historic towns steeped in tradition.

Why Visit Finland?

Finland caters to a wide array of interests, making it a versatile destination.

Adventure seekers can find thrills in outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and canoeing across Finland's diverse landscapes. Nature enthusiasts can connect with the pristine environment in the country’s numerous national parks and serene lake regions.

Those in search of relaxation will find solace in the ubiquitous Finnish sauna culture and the tranquil ambiance of the countryside.

Finland Travel Resources: Book Hotels in HelsinkiCar RentalFind and Book Helsinki ToursTravel Insurance

Each region of Finland promises unique experiences that reveal why the Finns are celebrated for their happiness.

From the bustling markets and innovative public spaces of Helsinki to the silent beauty of Lapland, every corner of Finland invites you to uncover the secret to its inhabitants' joy and well-being.

Visit Helsinki

Finland’s compact yet vibrant capital city is the obvious starting point for those seeking a city break in Finland. Visiting Helsinki offers a unique blend of Nordic design heritage and natural beauty.

Two images of Helsinki, Finland.
Helsinki, the capital city of Finland.

The city is a UNESCO Design City, recognised for its commitment to incorporating design into everyday life, reflected in its numerous novel public spaces and landmarks.

One of the city's architectural highlights is the Oodi Library, a modern marvel with a striking undulating design that seamlessly integrates with the urban landscape. This wooden structure is not only a haven for book lovers but also a community hub that hosts various events and activities.

Another must-visit site is the Temppeliaukio Church, or Rock Church, renowned for its unique construction directly into solid rock. Its raw, natural interior and exceptional acoustics make it a popular venue for concerts and a serene place for reflection.

Located in the heart of the city at Senate Square, Helsinki Cathedral is an iconic landmark with its striking white façade and green domes. This neoclassical building is a must-see, both for its architectural beauty and its panoramic views of the city from the steps leading up to it.

Helsinki Cathedral.
Helsinki Cathedral.

Kiasma is Finland’s premier contemporary art museum, showcasing innovative and provocative works by Finnish and international artists. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, designed by American architect Steven Holl.

Helsinki’s seaside location and nearby archipelago add to its charm, offering a maritime ambiance and a variety of outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the picturesque Suomenlinna sea fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or take a leisurely ferry ride to one of the many islands.

The city’s waterfront promenades, parks, and beaches provide ample opportunities for relaxation and recreation, making Helsinki a standout destination in Finland.

Easy Day Trips From Helsinki

Short on time? Helsinki offers several day trip opportunities for those with limited time but who are still keen to explore Finland's rich landscapes and cultural heritage.


One of the oldest towns in Finland, Porvoo is a charming destination known for its picturesque old town with cobblestone streets and colourful wooden houses. Just a 50-minute drive from Helsinki, Porvoo is an accessible escape into Finnish history and culture.

A visit to Porvoo Cathedral, which dates back to the 15th century, is a must for history enthusiasts. This Gothic cathedral, with its striking white façade and richly decorated interior, has been a significant site for centuries, reflecting the town's religious and cultural heritage.

Strolling through Old Porvoo, visitors can admire the well-preserved wooden houses painted in traditional reds, yellows, and greens. The area is also home to the Old Town Hall, now a museum, which offers insights into Porvoo’s past.

Charming old houses in Porvoo, Finland.
Charming old houses in Porvoo, Finland.

The town's many boutiques and galleries offer unique Finnish designs and handmade goods, blending historic charm with contemporary culture.

Nuuksio National Park

Just a short drive or public transport ride from Finland's capital, Nuuksio provides a quick gateway into forested, lake-filled wilderness.

Hiking, bird watching, berry and mushroom picking, canoeing, and camping are just a few activities visitors can enjoy. The park offers a chance to encounter Finnish wildlife, including elk, deer, and a variety of bird species, in their natural habitat.


For a deeper dive into Finnish history, a day trip to Hämeenlinna offers the chance to explore the imposing 13th-century Häme Castle.

This well-preserved medieval fortress features guided tours, exhibitions on medieval life, and artifacts from different historical periods. The castle's massive walls and towers provide a fascinating glimpse into Finland's past.

Hämeenlinna is also a base for visiting the Iittala Glass Factory Museum, offering insights into Finland’s design industries and cultural heritage. Additionally, the town's picturesque parks and lakes make it a nice spot for leisurely walks and picnics.


As the oldest city in Finland, Turku offers rich historical and cultural experiences. It provides insights into the medieval era with attractions such as Turku Castle and Turku Cathedral, two of the oldest buildings in Finland still in regular use.

Turku Castle dates back to the late 13th century and stands as a testament to Finland's medieval history. Visitors can explore its extensive halls, dungeons, and exhibits that showcase the castle's storied past, including its role in various historical conflicts and its use as a residence for Swedish royalty.

Images of Turku in Finland.
Turku, Finland.

Turku Cathedral, consecrated in 1300, is a prominent landmark and the national shrine of Finland's Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Its Gothic architecture, adorned with frescoes and medieval artifacts, offers a serene glimpse into Finland's religious heritage. The cathedral's museum houses an array of ecclesiastical treasures and relics.

Finland Travel Resources: Book Hotels in HelsinkiCar RentalFind and Book Helsinki ToursTravel Insurance

Aura River, central to the city's layout, is flanked by dining establishments and significant historical landmarks, enhancing Turku's scenic appeal.

Walking along the riverbanks, visitors can enjoy picturesque views and discover a variety of cafes, restaurants, and shops. The riverside is particularly lively during the summer months when locals and tourists alike gather for outdoor dining and festivals.

Old Rauma

Old Rauma, a vibrant historic area and UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts over 600 colourful buildings housing boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, along with Finland's narrowest street.

The charm of Old Rauma lies not only in its buildings but also in its lively community. This unique living museum is inhabited by about 800 people.

A highlight of Old Rauma is the 15th-century Church of the Holy Cross, a former Franciscan monastery. Visitors can admire its exquisite murals, which include medieval frescoes depicting biblical scenes. The church’s serene atmosphere and historical significance make it a must-visit landmark.

Images of Old Rauma in Finland.
Old Rauma is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Finland.

About 20km away, the Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki, another UNESCO site, offers insights into ancient Nordic history. Sammallahdenmäki features a collection of 36 granite burial cairns spread across a rugged landscape.

Dating back over 3,000 years, these burial cairns provide a glimpse into the funerary practices and societal structures of the Bronze Age communities in the region.

Finland’s Lake Region

Finland's southeastern region, near the Russian border, is a picturesque area rich with lakes and islands, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

With over 55,000 significant bodies of water, the landscape is dominated by serene lakes, dense forests, and charming villages. The area is dotted with summer cottages, many of which are available for rent, providing an authentic Finnish experience.

One of the highlights of this region is Route 62, which runs from Mikkeli to Ruokolahti, offering some of the most enjoyable lakeside views in Finland.

This scenic drive winds through a landscape of glittering waters and lush greenery, making it a favourite route for road trips and cycling tours. Along the way, travellers can stop at lookout points, small towns, and nature trails.

This region is ideal for experiencing the quintessentially Finnish tradition of enjoying a sauna followed by a refreshing dip in an ice-cold lake.

Many lakeside cottages come equipped with private saunas, allowing visitors to indulge in this relaxing ritual in complete privacy.

The combination of the sauna's intense heat and the lake's cool waters is believed to have numerous health benefits and is a deeply ingrained part of Finnish culture.

Finnish lakes.
Finland's lake region is vast.

In addition to saunas and swimming, the Lake Region offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and fishing on the tranquil lakes, or explore the numerous hiking and biking trails that crisscross the forests.

The region is also a haven for bird watchers, with many species inhabiting the area, particularly around the larger lakes and wetlands.

For those interested in local culture, the Lake Region hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from traditional Finnish music and dance to regional food specialties.

Bases in the Lake Region

Towns like Savonlinna and Lappeenranta are cultural hubs where visitors can explore historical sites, attend concerts, and enjoy local cuisine.

Savonlinna is famous for its medieval Olavinlinna Castle. This 15th-century fortress, built on an island, hosts the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival, attracting music lovers from around the world. The town itself is picturesque, with its beautiful lakeside setting, charming wooden houses, and vibrant summer markets.

This charming town Lappeenranta is known for its rich history, beautiful lake scenery, and vibrant cultural scene. Lappeenranta Fortress, a historic site that dates back to the 18th century, houses several museums, art galleries, and cafes.

Saimaa Canal, which connects Lappeenranta to the Gulf of Finland, is a significant waterway and a popular route for scenic cruises.


Nestled between two lakes, Tampere has evolved from its industrial origins into a vibrant hub of education, culture, and technology, boasting major universities and research institutes.

The waterfront walk in Tampere Finland. Photo: David Nikel.
The waterfront walk in Tampere Finland. Photo: David Nikel.

The city attracts international visitors with events at Tampere Hall congress center, which also houses the Moomin Museum, celebrating Tove Jansson's timeless characters.

The Vapriikki Museum Center offers insights into Tampere's industrial history and hosts diverse exhibitions, ranging from natural history to gaming. Another notable attraction is the Tampere Art Museum, which showcases contemporary Finnish art.

The city's historical Finlayson Area, once a major industrial complex, has been transformed into a lively district with shops, restaurants, and cultural venues.

Tampere is also known for its vibrant music and arts scene, with numerous theaters, galleries, and live music venues. The city hosts annual events such as the Tampere Film Festival and Tammerfest, a summer music festival.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the scenic Pyynikki Park and Observation Tower, offering panoramic views of the lakes and city.

Arctic Finland

The northern region of Finland is a year-round destination, offering endless daylight in summer for hiking and wildlife watching, and stunning northern lights alongside Arctic landscapes in fall, winter, and spring.

Arctic Finland is a prime spot for viewing the northern lights. For comfort, consider staying in a glass igloo at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. A winter visit also includes activities like husky sled rides, exploring Sami culture, and sauna.


Known as the gateway to Arctic Finland, Oulu is a city known for its technology sector and vibrant cultural scene, featuring music festivals, museums, and art galleries.

Oulu's position by the Baltic Sea makes it ideal for bird watching. Winter in Oulu brings plummeting temperatures but great opportunities for ice skating and cross-country skiing.

Oulu in Finland.
Oulu in Finland.

The city also boasts a thriving start-up ecosystem and hosts the annual Air Guitar World Championships (yes, really!), adding a unique flair to its cultural offerings.


Known as the ‘official hometown of Santa Claus’, Rovaniemi lies directly on the Arctic Circle. This city is a magical destination for families, offering visits to Santa Claus Village all year round.

Beyond this festive appeal, Rovaniemi serves as a hub for Arctic adventures, including snowmobile safaris, reindeer sleigh rides, and aurora hunting.

Cultural highlights include the Arktikum museum, which provides comprehensive insights into Arctic nature and the history of Finnish Lapland.

Ivalo and Inari

In the far north, Ivalo and Inari offer insights into indigenous Sami culture, with attractions like the Siida Museum and opportunities to explore the Arctic wilderness.

Finland Travel Resources: Book Hotels in HelsinkiCar RentalFind and Book Helsinki ToursTravel Insurance

Inari is home to the Sami Parliament and serves as a cultural center for the Sami people, offering visitors an authentic look at the traditions and way of life of the Nordic region’s indigenous people.

Åland Islands

This Swedish-speaking archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia offers peaceful natural beauty, maritime attractions, and outdoor activities.

The Åland Islands are known as a summer vacation spot, popular with both Swedes and Finns for the sandy beaches, historic sites, scenic cycle paths, and quaint villages.

Mariehamn, the charming capital, serves as the heart of Åland's 30,000 residents, offering a glimpse into the islands' maritime heritage with attractions like the Åland Maritime Museum and the Pommern sailing ship.

Which are your favourite places to visit in Finland? Or perhaps you haven't yet been but have been inspired to plan a trip? I'd love to hear your thoughts down in the comments.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

Norway Weekly Subscribe Banner

Leave a Comment